Yesterday, I had the privilege to chat with a delightful group of kids! While I was sitting in my office working, my co-workers were talking about a band of kids, maybe 15 or so, hanging out on the front lawn throwing paper cups and fast food bags all on the ground. When a couple of them were about to leave, I stepped outside and asked if they were going to leave the trash on the ground where they were.
One of the older kids denied doing it and kept going. But several of the other kids, ranging from 6 years old to about 13 years old, were still standing and very respectfully, said they had done it. I went over to them and told them I was going to get a trash bag and asked if they would mind picking up behind themselves. They said, “Yes sir”.
As they were picking up the trash and dropping it into the bag, I talked with them, asking about school, where they lived and getting a few names. One little girl, still sipping from her straw, began telling me all sorts of stuff about herself. I asked one of the taller of the group where he went to school. He proudly said, “I’m 11 and start school in September!”
Right about then, a shorter young man ran up and said, “I’m a freshman in high school!” I smiled and congratulated him. You could see these kids were from a poorer section of town but that didn’t matter. They were glad to be acknowledged, shown some respect and were quite happy to chat. They wanted to tell somebody about themselves and what they had achieved. As I waved goodbye, they smiled and waved back and continued walking down the sidewalk.
Don’t judge a book by its cover!
As I interacted with these kids, I thought of how John 12:8 is often misjudged. When Jesus said, “For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always…”, he was responding to Judas’ disdain for the fact that Mary poured expensive ointment on Jesus’s feet by saying it could have been sold and given to the poor. If you pay attention to verse six, we are told Judas didn’t care about the poor because he was a thief who would steal from the money bag.
Unfortunately, many people think this means Jesus was speaking of generosity but that is false. Being generous was not the discussion, at all. His point to Judas was that He would not always be around for us to have the opportunity to serve him in that way but the poor will always be available.
Still, he used that fact to make His point. For that reason, I believe there is something far more fundamental and it’s not something we like to talk about. These kids were on the move, making strides to better themselves and completely open to being corrected and beamed with pride, to be able to talk about what they were doing.
Jesus didn’t tell us why there will always be people lacking something they need but we all know there will always be someone in need. There are various reasons why but at the end of the day, if we helped everyone in need, there will still be somebody in need.
Not only because they can’t but more often than not, many will not complete the process that will deliver them from poverty.
Jesus understood this and validated that truth when he said this. As I looked into the faces of these children, I was moved and fascinated by their energy. They were so enthralled with being acknowledged in a kind manner, that it didn't bother them that a stranger was reinforcing the axiom of picking up behind yourself and respecting your community by keeping it clean.
If I had judged them as dangerous, disrespectful or approached them unkindly, I’m sure they would have responded in an equally negative manner. But instead, I heard them say, “Yes sir”, I saw smiles and genuine excitement to talk. They weren’t making excuses, enjoyed being respected and I enjoyed giving them respect.
Like Mary, who took advantage of the opportunity to serve Jesus while He was there with her, they will face obstacles and life will deal them some harsh blows, but that energy in their faces is what Jesus wants us to protect!
He wants us to recognize those who desire to achieve and not let the Judases of the day stand in the way of their progress. That’s why He told Judas to “leave her alone”. These kids had no problem with carrying their own weight. They just needed someone to give them a chance and a little assistance along the way.
When they left, the lawn was clean! As Jesus was Mary’s champion, He will provide for us so that we can help others provide for themselves.
Father, in the name of Jesus, we thank you for tender hearts toward our fellow man. We pray for our children, the poor and the disenfranchised.
We pray that the hurts and pain of life will not snuff out the dreams and wonders of our future.
Teach us so that we can teach others to love, serve and lead.
Guide us so that we can release random acts of kindness to those are indeed, in need.
Help us to see others with hearts of love and to show them respect instead of judging them based on their appearance.
We recognize that Jesus hates sin but he absolutely loves sinners.
In that way, infuse us with the mind of Christ, that we hate the evil deeds committed by humanity but still hold love in our hearts for our fellow man.
Remove the hate and grant us the peace of God that passes understanding, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen!
~Inspiring Hope, Seasoning Faith,
Pastor Sean A. Daigre, Sr.